Hardy was born in Windsor in Berkshire, one of six children of George Hardy, a musician to George IV, Queen Adelaide and Queen Victoria in the Royal household at Windsor. Hardy remained in Windsor until his marriage on 11 March 1852 to Rebecca Sophia Dorrofield . Hardy specialised in light-hearted scenes depicting children in detailed Victorian rooms, and also painted portraits. He exhibited ninety-three pictures at the Royal Academy from 1851 to 1898 and five at the British Institution between 1851 and 1856.
Hardy died in Cranbrook in April 1911 and was buried beside his wife in St Dunstan's churchyard. He left his estate to daughter Amelia Gertrude Hardy (1865-1952), also an artist who lived and painted in Cranbrook into the 1930s.